JOHANNESBURG — Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Dec. 11 in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Dec. 10 afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
"I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came," said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. "I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa."
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Sharma had a four-stroke lead in the Joburg Open with 11 holes left when lightning and heavy rain forced the suspension of play.
Making his 10th European Tour start, Sharma was 22 under at Randpark. He had a 61 Dec. 8 on the Bushwillow Course and shot a 66 Dec. 9 on the Firethorn Course to take a five-stroke lead into the final round. On Dec. 10, Sharma birdied two of the first seven holes at Fitethorn before play was stopped for the day.
“I had to cancel my flight tickets today but that was an easy thing to do considering the position I’m in,” Sharma said.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen was second. Play was suspended with Sharma on the eighth green, and Van Rooyen looking at a tap-in birdie on the ninth after birdieing four of the first eight.
Forty-two players were unable to complete the round.
“I’m going to treat it like another day,” Sharma said. “I’m going to do the same things which I’ve been doing the last four days. It is not frustrating, but you get into a groove when you start and you don’t want to come off. I saw the clouds coming on the seventh hole and I was praying we could finish, but we can’t help it. I’m playing well so I want to continue doing that.”
The top three players who are not already exempt will earn spots in the British Open.